Saturday, June 04, 2005

Four Tet / Everything Ecstatic/ Rating 7.4

I spend a lot of time in my car and I suppose for many people this is were we actually have the chance to be alone with a record and really listen to it. My guess is we all have certain kinds of music we like to drive to and I have discovered that many an incredible cd at home does not agree with the me behind a steering wheel. My initial listen to “Everything Ecstatic” was in my car and after one listen it was shoved in my glove box and forgotten about. It wasn’t that I hated it; it was too dense and complicated for my ears to enjoy as 4 lanes of I95 whittled down to 1 and paving trucks hammered and screeched past my practically parked Honda.

Almost every review (not just pitchfork) you will read of this record will talk about its connection to free jazz with all its skronky unpredictability and lack of structure. This is all very accurate and the not huge jazz fan in me wondered if I would really listen to this newest Four Tet again.( in the car or at home) Much to my surprise I find myself returning to it because my ears feel like I am still missing something. Not in a I don’t get what the hell this record is about way but in fact that there are a thousand sounds happening in every song and there is no way anyone could digest it all after just a few spins.

The name dropping of who Keiran Hebden has remixed for and who he is presently working with didn’t prepare me for what this record really sounds like and while most of Ryan Dombal’s review is decent I can’t say I really agree with calling this a step backward as a solo artist. Every second of “Everything Ecstatic” sounds like it is exactly as Keiran wanted it. For any artist I would call that a step forward or at worst, sideways. There are no sell out commercial radio friendly moments and if anything the playful chaos of it all makes for a curiously charming challenging but in a good way release.

Who can build a track out of something that sounds like you just won 1,000 bucks from a slot machine and sandwich it between beats the Beastie Boys would kill for? Four Tet can, that’s who. Finally there is an artist who uses his computer like an actual musical instrument and a soulful extension of himself. Beat geeks, avante jazzies and IDM fans unite!

Do you rate a cd according to how commercial its success will be or on its creative merit? On a scale of 1 to 10 this by merit deserves a 9 but truthfully its accessibility is more like a 4.